Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert has been writing about movies since 1967. He’s described by Forbes as “the most powerful pundit in America” and is the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Check out his books, his fascinating memoir Life Itself, and his reviews online.
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Three boy scouts were murdered in 1993 in West Memphis Arkansas. Police believed that the children were killed in a Satanic ritual. Damien Echols, his best friend Jason Baldwin, and a school associate named Jessie Misskelley were blamed, tried, and convicted for the murders without any hard evidence of doing the crime.
In 2011, after 18 years and 78 days in prison, the men were given back their freedom. In Life After Death, Damien Echols talks about his experiences with the justice system and readjusting to society. Below, he talks to the women of The View about his time in prison.
The End of Your Life Book Club is the true story of Mary Anne and Will, a mother and son, finding the power of books as she is dying of cancer. For two years, they read an array of genres and deeply discuss topics such as gratitude, listening, and love.
A successful ad rep was walking down the street in Manhattan. A young boy begged her for money for food. He hadn’t eaten in two days. The woman kept walking…until something made her stop, turn around and ask the boy to go to McDonald’s with her. For the next four years, the two met every Monday so the young boy could have a meal. After that, their bond kept growing. In An Invisible Thread, Laura Schroff tells the story of how a homeless panhandler became her son.
“Inhale and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation and God remains with you. Exhale and you approach God. Hold the exhalation and surrender to God.” These were the words of Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga. For some, yoga is a thorough stretching routine that helps maintain health; for others, yoga can be a route to not only physical wellness, but spiritual balance. The Sivananda Yoga Companion, with its clear-cut drawings and photos of poses, is a standard yoga text that will help you to discover the relaxing, meditative, dietary, and physical benefits of practicing yoga. If you want to boost your energy, flexibility, and focus – try yoga!
SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Title: In Cold Blood
Author: Truman Capote
Page Count: 343
Genre: Nonfiction – True Crime
Tone: Bleak, Sobering
1. Did anyone look up the French epigraph at the beginning of the book? Francois Villon, “Ballade des Pendus,” translates to:
Human brothers who live after us,
Do not have (your) hearts hardened against us,
For, if you take pity on us poor (fellows),
God will sooner have mercy on you.
What do you think Capote meant, using this as the epigraph?
2. Why do you think Truman Capote introduced the town first, then the Clutters and then the murderers?
3. Do you like Mr. Clutter and his family when you meet them?
4. What is your first impression of Perry and Dick?
5. What about the Clutters? Did you feel like you knew them?
6. On page 37, Dick boasts that nothing can go wrong. Was he prepared or naïve?
7. When you read a quote like “Ain’t that what I promised you, honey – plenty of hair on them-those walls?” (p. 37) What does it make you feel towards Dick?
8. How does Capote build suspense in In Cold Blood?
9. Capote goes back and forth in chapters between the Clutters and the murderers. Then Capote goes back and forth from the police and the murderers. Why? Was this an effective way to tell a story?
10. What did you think of Capote’s use of direct quotes?
11. Did this read like other nonfiction books you’ve read? Why or why not?
12. What does the term “nonfiction novel” mean?
13. Do you think Capote gave a fair amount of time to all characters involved?
14. Who seemed like the worse criminal, Dick or Perry? Do you think that had anything to do with Capote’s writing style?
15. Perry admits to thinking that they are “wrong,” but Dick continually calls himself a “normal.” (p. 109) What do you think this says about each of the men?
16. Who do you pity in this story?
17. Does it change your opinion of Perry to know that he was a veteran (page 128) or to know that he was sexually abused (p. 133)?
18. How did the police get their big break in the case?
19. Do you think Floyd Wells felt bad about telling Dick about the Clutter family?
20. What did you think of Dick’s family’s reaction to hearing that he was a murderer?
21. When Dick and Perry are caught, who breaks to the cops first? Why?
22. Was there a specific moment that scared you with either criminal?
23. If a horrible crime happened in your town, would you talk to a dedicated writer about it?
24. Was there a passage of this book that was harder to read than others?
25. Do you believe that the farmhand Stoecklein didn’t hear the four gunshots next door?
26. What did you think of the insurance man’s reaction to hearing of Mr. Clutter’s death? (p. 71)
27. What did you think of Dick and Perry’s reactions to murdering four people? (p. 73 – 74, p. 91)
28. Nye says, “Nobody would kill four people for fifty bucks,” (p. 87). Do you think this is true today? Do you think it was true then?
29. What did you think of Josie and Wendle Meier? Josie showed calm and caring. Could you have showed that to either Dick or Perry? Would you have?
30. Don Cullivan, an old Army buddy of Perry’s, comes to visit. Why?
31. Perry changed his statement to say he murdered everybody. Why?
32. Do you think there is a difference between reading a true crime book and reading a violent fiction book? Do you feel different while reading one as compared to the other?
33. Was there a section that moved slower than others?
34. Did you like where the book stopped at? Would you have wanted its ending to have come sooner?
35. Do you think Capote did this town good or a disservice by writing In Cold Blood?
36. Do you believe in the death penalty?
37. Do you think Dick and Perry “got what they deserved?”
38. Perry didn’t believe in the death penalty, he said, “I think it’s a helluva thing to take a life in this manner. I don’t believe in capital punishment, morally or legally.” (p. 340) How did this strike you?
39. What did you think of each man’s last words?
-Perry p. 340
-Dick p. 339
40. Do you think Capote believed in capital punishment? (Answer found here.)
Truman Capote Wikipedia entry
Lit Lovers’ book discussion guide
Kansas Center for the Book discussion questions
George Plimpton interview with Truman Capote
Paris Review interview of Truman Capote
List of catalog materials helpful to discussion*
Original New York Times article that inspired Truman Capote to write In Cold Blood
And! Please speak with one of our friendly reference librarians about finding original articles from 1966 about the Clutter family killings in our Chicago Tribune Historical database. The pictures alone make the articles good handouts for book discussion groups.
*These are most helpful when you use the index at the back of the book to search for In Cold Blood.
If your obsession with Downton Abbey has led to you fantasize about being one of the Crawleys or among their staff, then the PBS series Manor House is a must-see! In this project, nineteen volunteers from the modern world agree to live in an Edwardian country house for three months. Not only are they without 21st-century conveniences, but they must abide by the class system and standards of behavior of the early 1900s. As the tagline claims, “There’s a place for everyone…and everyone better know their place.” The tensions between family, upper staff, and lower staff are played out in both expected and surprising ways, and you will gain a new appreciation for all. Looking for even more insight? Try the program website, the companion book, or Secrets of the Manor House.
After the American Civil War, many African Americans moved from rural Southern locations to Northern locales. One of the epicenters for burgeoning African American culture was Harlem in New York City. The Harlem Renaissance (1918 – 1937) was a literary, musical, and visually artistic era that served as a cultural awakening, wherein racist beliefs of African Americans were broken down and African American culture was expanded through the arts.
Click here to get acquainted with writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
The New York Dolls were a proto-punk, rock-and-roll band who played hard, loud…and in women’s clothing. They kicked out the jams for five years and fell apart by 1977. New York Doll is a documentary on bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane after his life in the Dolls. Kane describes his alcoholism, drug abuse, and his climb back into normal life – having become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Just when working in a Mormon genealogy library was starting to get mundane, the New York Dolls reunited, giving Kane a chance to rock out without the negative nightlife.
Wearing make-up is not a requirement of being a beautiful woman. Going natural is great, but if you do want to wear make-up, Bobbi Brown wants to help you find your style, rather than following a trend. Her newest book Pretty Powerful: Beauty Stories to Inspire Confidence gives techniques and recommendations for everyday and evening looks, along with interviewing famous women – from actresses to athletes – about what beauty means to them.